3 - The band plays on: "Amazing Grace" greenlighted
Perhaps you have heard about the controversy in Elmore County, AL, where the band at Holtville High School had planned to play Amazing Grace as part of a halftime show. There had been an inquiry about the song's inclusion received by the county Board of Education, and the Superintendent, Andre Harrison, made the decision to pull the classic, traditional hymn from the program.
According to WSFA Television, the superintendent said that he consulted with legal counsel and received what he said to be an "admittedly conservative" recommendation. The song was removed - temporarily.
The television station reports that last Sunday, July 24, Harrison posted an update on Facebook that said he had been contacted by many concerned parents regarding the decision to pull the song. He said that he asked counsel to do further research on the issue and to see if there was an option that would keep the district in legal compliance, but permit the performance of "one of the most iconic songs in the history of our nation." The additional research led the superintendent to reverse the earlier decision.
On his Facebook page, Franklin Graham, who had called attention to the situation earlier on the page, said:
If Christians had remained silent, this change would most likely not have occurred. I applaud the parents and community members who let their voices be heard. People even came out and gathered in front of the high school to show their concern and support for the band. We all have to take a stand for our religious freedoms while we still can.
2 - Lawsuit challenges city's assistance to upcoming denominational convention
The National Baptist Convention will be holding its annual meeting in Kansas City in September, and a group of atheists is up in arms about some grant money that is flowing to a ministry associated with the event.
Baptist Press reports that the Kansas City Council approved a grant from the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund to a ministry called John Modest Miles Ministries, which is a community nonprofit arm of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City. The ministry plans to use the money to support tourism during the Convention's national meeting in Kansas City. The article quotes from the Kansas City Star, which reported that Miles said the money would be used for transporting convention delegates and other visitors.
A lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri by American Atheists Inc. and two of its Kansas City members, seeking to block the grant allocation and have it declared unconstitutional.
The Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund was established in 1989, according to the Kansas City government website, to support "non-profit organizations through contracts for services ... to help promote Kansas City's distinct and diverse neighborhoods through cultural, social, ethnic, historic, educational and recreational activities in conjunction with promoting the city as a premier convention, visitor and tourist center."
1 - Charges dropped against pro-life videographers
The pro-life videographers with the Center for Medical Progress who had produced the videos documenting Planned Parenthood's sale of body parts from unborn children had the final charges against them in Houston dismissed this past week. According to a WORLD Magazine story, Harris County District Court Judge Brock Thomas dismissed the final indictment stemming from David Daleiden’s undercover work exposing Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the fetal tissue trade at the request of the county District Attorney's office, which admitted that the charges brought against him, as well as Sandra Merritt, were invalid due to irregularities.
This case begin after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson to investigate allegations of profiteering by Planned Parenthood. But after the completion of the grand jury investigation, jurors indicted Daleiden and Merritt instead.
Charges dismissed included trying to purchase fetal remains and tampering with a government document (falsifying their drivers’ licenses). According to WORLD, attorneys for Daleiden and Merritt argued that the indictments "demonstrated a bias against their clients and pointed to the grand jury investigation and its flawed procedures as evidence."